REPORT of the Committee appointed to draw up a Model Code of Rules for an Association and Belfry.

The Committee beg to present to the Council the following Codes of Rules as the result of their deliberations. They have arrived at that result with practical unanimity, and after careful consideration of those points upon which differences of opinion were manifested. They venture to think that no feature of importance, either in Organisation or Management, has been overlooked: and are fairly confident that the Rules, as a whole, provide a sufficient basis for the establishment of greater uniformity in these particulars than has been hitherto observed. Such clauses as are in small type may, if desired, be read together to form one rule.

A. Rules for an Association or Guild.

1.- Title.- That the Society be called etc. etc.

2.- Area.- That its area of operation and influence shall include etc. etc.

3.- Objects.- That the Society (Association or Guild) shall have for its objects (1) The federation of isolated, or combined, bands of ringers within the area of its operations. (2) To promote the recognition of Church Bell Ringers as Churchworkers (or officials). (3) The encouragement and cultivation of the Art of Scientific Change-Ringing. (4) The promotion of Belfry Reform in all its aspects.

If desired, the above ‘objects’ may be set forth more at length, and prefixed to the Code of Rules as a separate Schedule: as follows:-

[Federation.- (1) To supply an organisation which shall unite the separate bands (or companies) of Church Bell Ringers within the area covered by the Society’s (Association’s or Guild’s) operations for the purpose of mutual support and encouragement in the performance of the duties of their office, and in the practice of their Art.

Recognition (2).- To obtain full recognition of the Ringers’ Office as essentially a branch of the Church’s work; that Ringers and their services (qualification for which demands much time, skill, and mental labour) may be placed upon a true acknowledged basis.

Promotion of Change-Ringing (3).- To encourage, cultivate and foster the Art of Scientific Change-Ringing by frequent meetings in various centres for practice or peal-ringing; and to provide, as far as possible and at a reasonable cost, instructors when and where required.

Reform (4).- To correct abuses, irregularities, irreverent and unbecoming behaviour in the Ringing Chamber: to promote a proper appreciation of it as a part of God’s House; to restrict the use of bells on Sunday, as far as possible to the service of the Church; to encourage the bestowal of care and attention to the cleanliness and proper equipment of the Ringing Chamber, as well as the preservation of the bells in an efficient condition; to advocate needful repairs and renovations; and to supply, when required, reliable information and advice of a practical character concerning the condition of bells and their fittings.]

4.- Constitution.- That the Society (Association or Guild) shall consist of Honorary Members, Performing (or Practising) Members, and Probationers.

5.- Executive.- That the direction of the Society’s (Association’s or Guild’s) operations and the management of its affairs be in the hands of a Committee, consisting of etc., etc.

The principal officers to be annually elected by the whole body of members, or such of them as attend the meeting convened for that purpose.

6.- Qualification.- That no one be admitted as a Performing (or practising) member, or as a Probationer, unless his Churchmanship and good character be vouched for by some responsible member of this Society (Association or Guild), or by the Clergyman of his parish. A candidate for admission as a Performing (or practising) member must also be certified as able to ring a tower bell through 120 changes in two Methods of Doubles, or 720 of Minor; or hunt the Treble on any higher number of bells than six for at least 1260 changes; or 120 changes of Doubles on two handbells retained in hand. A Probationer most be certified as able to ring in ‘rounds.’

7.- Admission.- That upon sending to the Secretary a signed form of application any duly qualified candidate may be admitted as a Performing (or practising) member, or Probationer, at any meeting of the Society (Association or Guild), or of the Committee, if approved by a majority of the members present, or not less than five of the Committee.

8.- Tower Nomination.- That skilled ringers may be nominated for election by two members in a Tower before starting for a peal, provided their life subscriptions (if non-resident in the area of the Society’s operation), or, if resident, their subscriptions for the current year be previously paid, and these with their names and addresses be forthwith forwarded to the Secretary: the election to be confirmed at the next meeting of the Society (Association or Guild) or Committee, subject to the approval of the majority present, and (in the case of residents) the production of the required voucher.

9.- Subscription.- That Honorary members be admitted on payment of an Annual Subscription of * * *; or may become Life Members by giving a donation of * * *. The Annual Subscription of Performing (or practising) Members and Probationers shall be * * *. Skilled ringers residing outside the area of the Society’s operation may be admitted as Life Members by a vote of a majority of the members present at a meeting of the Society (Association or Guild) upon payment of an entrance fee of * * *. All subscriptions shall become due at the date of admission; and subsequent Annual Subscriptions on * * * in each year.

10.- Certificates.- That a Certificate of Membership be supplied by the Society (Association or Guild) to each member admitted, free of charge (or, on payment of * * *). Lost or damaged certificates shall be replaced only on payment of * * * for each. A Probationer shall not be entitled to a Certificate until he qualifies as a Performing (or practising) member.

11.- Disqualification.- That gross misconduct on the part of any Member or Probationer, if proved to the satisfaction of the Committee; or, lapse of subscription for (a period to be defined) shall, at the discretion of the Committee, be held to disqualify for continuance as a Member or Probationer.

12.- Reinstatement.- That the names of former members, whose subscriptions have lapsed, may, at the discretion of the Committee, be reinstated on the list of Members on payment of one (or two) year’s arrears of subscription together with the subscription for the current year.

13.- Annual Meeting.- That a General Meeting of the Members be held in each year, to be called the ‘Annual Meeting’ (insert time of year, place, and details of proceeding, as may be decided).

14.- Other Meetings.- (As may be desired, or decided).

15.- Expense of Meetings.- That Performing (or practising) members may be assisted in bearing the expense incidental to attendance at Meetings from the funds of the Society (Association or Guild) [in such proportion and ways as the Committee shall decide].

16.- Instruction.- That the Society (Association or Guild) shall enlist the services of skilled ringers to act as Instructors, and shall, on application to the Secretary, arrange as soon as may be for the attendance of one such Instructor to teach any band for a fixed period, or number of lessons; and shall pay a proportion not exceeding one-half of the instructional fee, with half travelling expenses up to * * * per lesson, provided there is no member of the band capable of himself giving the instruction.

17.- Peal Records.- That the Society (Association or Guild) shall record in a Peal-Book, or in an Annual Report, or in such other form as may be selected, all performances of 5000 changes and upwards truly rung in approved methods by bona fide members of the Society free of charge [or, if a fee is to be charged, name it here], and it shall be the duty of the conductor of the peal to forward forthwith to the Secretary (or to a member of a Peal Committee to be appointed to enquire into the merits of peal performances) full details of the performance and the composition rung. No performance shall be accepted as a Society (Association or Guild) peal unless all the persons taking part in it are Members of the Society (Association or Guild), or nominated for membership; and have each paid his subscription for the current year or the year previous.

18.- Annual Report.- That an Annual Report of the progress and performances of the Society (Association or Guild) with a list of members and statement of accounts shall in each year be prepared, printed, and distributed to all resident members free of charge.

19.- Liability for Damage.- That the Society (Association or Guild) shall not be responsible for any damage to bells or fittings occurring during a meeting of the Society which is caused by the neglect of the Church Authorities to keep the bells in an efficient condition; but shall be responsible when such damage is clearly caused by the carelessness, or want of skill of any member.

20.- Alteration of Rules.- That no alteration in, or addition to, the Rules be made except at an Annual or Special Meeting after notice has been publicly given, and handed in writing to the Secretary, of such alteration or addition at a previous general meeting; and the alteration or addition proposed printed in the notice convening the Annual or Special Meeting.

[N.B.-Where the area of operation is extensive, it will generally be found desirable to subdivide it into Districts with District officers exercising specified duties. Regulations to this end can be incorporated in the above Code of Rules at discretion.


1.- Heading.- Rules to be observed by the Ringers attached to, and practising in, the Tower of S. * * * * Church, * * * *.

2.- Affiliation to Main Society.- That this Company of Ringers shall be in union with the * * * Diocesan (or County) Society (Association or Guild): and, save for grave and sufficient reason to be openly declared, shall not sever its connection therewith. It shall adhere to the Rules, and strive to further the objects of that Society (Association or Guild).

3.- President.- That the Incumbent (or Priest-in-charge) of the Parish be the President of the Company.

4.- Number of Members.- That the Company shall consist of * * * * Ringers and * * * * Probationers. [insert numbers].

5.- Qualification.- That both Ringers and Probationers shall be persons of good moral character, and be members of the Church of England.

6.- Admission.- That any duly qualified person desirous of joining the Company shall be proposed, seconded, and elected by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Company, subject to the approval and confirmation of the President, by whom he shall be admitted to the Company in the Church, or in the Tower, with the form approved for that purpose.

7.- Head Ringer.- That the members of the Company shall choose from among their number (annually, or when necessary) one to act as Head Ringer (Leader, Master or Captain); subject to the approval of the President and Churchwardens.

8.- Duties of Head Ringer. That the Head Ringer shall be responsible for the observance of the Belfry Rules by the Company; shall keep order in the Ringing Chamber on all occasions of practice, or ringing for service, or otherwise; and shall insist on seemly and reverent behaviour therein. He shall also act as Steeple-keeper when no separate Steeple-keeper is appointed; shall keep the Register of attendance and forfeits; and (if there be no Secretary) shall conduct the ordinary correspondence and transact the business affairs of the Company. He shall arrange with the President the times of practice, and special ringing; and shall report to the President all cases of misconduct on the part of any of the members, and to the Churchwardens defects and needful repairs in the Belfry.

9.- Steeple-keeper. That one of the Ringers shall be appointed by the President and Churchwardens to the office of Steeple-keeper, whose duty it shall be to keep the keys of the belfry. Ringing-chamber, and Stair-way door; to keep Bell and Ringing Chambers in a clean and orderly condition; to lubricate the bell-bearings, lash or muffle clappers when required, and keep the bell-frame and floor free from accumulations of dirt, grease, rope-frayings, and refuse litter.

10.- Conduct. That the Ringing Chamber shall not be used as a Club-room; and that no unseemly and disorderly conduct or conversation [other specific offences to be enumerated here, if desirable] be permitted there.

11.- Times of Ringing.- That the bells be rung (or chimed) regularly for the Services of the Church, as the President shall appoint; the attendance of the Ringers and Probationers for that purpose being arranged and regulated by the Head Ringer; and those who ring (or chime) should make a point of attending, if possible, the Service for which they ring (or chime). The bells shall also be rung on and for the great Festivals of the Church at such time, or times, as the President and Churchwardens shall appoint. Peal-ringing by the Company, or by visitors, to be arranged by the Head Ringer with the permission of the President.

12.- Practises.- That the Company shall meet for practice on (such and such day, or days, in the week), a distinct practice hour being set apart for learners, either on a separate day, or previous to the regular practice.

13.- Attendance.- That all members of the Company shall attend regularly for practise; and when absent without reasonable cause, or more than twenty minutes late by the Church or Ringing-Chamber Clock, shall incur a forfeit of * * * *. Reasonable cause to include sickness, and temporary employment at a distance. All attendances and forfeits to be marked in a Register-book, open to the inspection of the members to be kept by the Head Ringer.

14. Learners.- That young lads and boys, suitable for future admission to the Company, be encouraged in every way possible to learn the Art of Ringing, and be taken on for instruction with a view to their becoming Probationers of the Company, as vacancies occur.

15. Exclusion.- That no one save members of the Company or the Church Officials be present in the Ringing Chamber during the practices and other occasions of Ringing except with the express permission of the Head Ringer, or his deputy.

16. Emoluments.- That a Belfry Fund be formed to which each ringer shall pay a small periodical subscription, and to which shall be added any fixed annual payment by the Churchwardens, or any subscriptions and donations from residents in the Parish, or Members of the Congregation. For special ringing a fixed payment shall be made, the amount of which shall be agreed upon between the Company, the President, and Churchwardens. The proceeds shall be expended during the year in such a way as may be approved by the President and Churchwardens; or the whole, or the balance, shall be equally divided among the Ringers once a year, subject to deductions of forfeits incurred by each Ringer, during the year, which deduction shall form the nucleus of the Fund for the ensuing year. The subscriptions of the members to the Diocesan (or County) Society shall be paid as a first charge on the Fund, as a Company Subscription. Probationers shall not participate in the division.

[N.B.- The following scheme for a Belfry Club may be substituted for the above Rule:

Belfry Club Fund.- All monies received by the Company, whether from the Churchwardens, or by way of Christmas gifts, subscriptions of members, donations from residents, and all payments for special ringing at weddings, &c., shall be thrown into a common Belfry Fund, from which the Company subscription (according to the number of members in the Company) shall be paid, as a first charge, to the Diocesan (or County) Society.

Treasurer.- Some responsible person, either a professional man, or other well-to-do resident in the Parish, shall be asked to act as Treasurer of the Fund, to whom and by whom all payments shall be made, and who shall keep the accounts thereof.

Time Compensation.- In the case of payments for special ringing, those taking part in it shall be compensated for loss of working-time only, upon the conclusion of the ringing, according to the wage-rate of each. Ringers engaged in trade, or business on their own account, shall be content with time-compensation according to the maximum wage-rate received by any of the others, or take part in the special ringing.

Expenditure and Division.- The Company in consultation with the President, Treasurer, and Churchwardens at an annual meeting shall agree upon the objects to which any part of the Club Fund shall be devoted, and such balance as may remain shall be equally divided among the ringers. Probationers shall not share in this division, but may, with the consent of the company, and on the recommendation of the head ringer, receive a bonus from the fund.

Deduction of Forfeits.- All forfeits incurred during the year by any ringer shall be deducted from his share, and be kept by the Treasurer to form the nucleus of the next year’s fund.]

17.- Complaints, &c.- That any grievance, complaint, or dispute that may arise in connection with the Belfry or Ringers shall be at once referred to the president whose decision shall be final.

18.- Dismissal.- That for proved misconduct or unruly behaviour, any member of the company shall be liable to dismissal, or suspension, as the president and Churchwardens may decide.

19.- Meetings other than for Ringing.- That all meetings of the Company for the transaction of business, or for social intercourse, be held in the parish room, schoolroom, or a private house; or in the case of a house of public entertainment, in a club-room reserved for the purpose.

N.B.- It is recommended that all the members of a company do sign the belfry rules on joining, in token of acquiescence in them.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record May 3, 1902, pages 38 to 40


Conditions Constituting a Legitimate Peal.

Report of Standing Committee.

The following proposals are, in the main, approved by the members of the Committee, who reserve the right of moving individual amendments when the subject is before the Council.

1.- That any shift, or other error in ringing, be immediately corrected. (The words in italics were agreed to nem. con., at the meeting of 1901.)

2.- That no call be made, or having been made be altered or withdrawn, later than during the change at which a call would properly take effect.

3.- That no person other than those ringing in the peal shall take any part in the calling or in rectifying an error.

4.- That, if more than one person shall ring any bell, the fact be stated in publishing and booking the peal.

5.- That no ringer shall have any refreshment handed to him while taking part in a peal.

6.- That every bell must, during the peal, sound at every change. (To meet case of setting a bell or losing a clapper.)

7.- That no four or more bells shall clash together at any change.

That in the case of a peal rung to surpass a previous peal, compliance with these further conditions is desirable:

(1) That not less than fourteen days’ notice shall be given in the columns of “The Bell News” stating the tower, day, and hour, at which the attempt is to be made, and the number of changes proposed to be rung.

(2) That similar notice shall be sent to the conductor, or if he cannot be traced, to some member of the band who rang the peal which it is proposed to surpass: or if no member of the band can be traced, then to the Secretary of the Guild or Association under whose title the said peal was rung.

(3) That a sealed copy of the figures of the proposed peal, which figures shall be strictly adhered to, be lodged, previous to the attempt, with the Secretary or other responsible officer of the Guild or Association under whose title the band is to ring; and that, in the event of the peal being accomplished, such officer shall immediately forward direct to “The Bell News” for publication the said sealed copy unaltered; but that if the attempt shall prove unsuccessful, he shall instead return the sealed copy unopened to the conductor.

4.- That if possible a competent representative of each of the bands shall be present during the whole of the performance.

5.- That, if the peal shall be completed, a statement on the following lines, signed by each member of the band shall be prepared, which shall be shewn, if required, to the representative of the band whose peal has been surpassed:

“We, the undersigned, hereby testify that, to the best of our belief, the peal of ---------- rung at --------- on the ---------- day of ---------- 19 ---------- was truly performed in accordance with the conditions for record peals laid down by the Central Council.”

6.- That any objection which may be taken to a peal be raised at the earliest date, and in no case after the lapse of three months, unless in respect of the truth of the composition, as to which the figures of the sealed copy shall be deemed conclusive evidence. (The words in italics were agreed to nem. con. at the meeting of 1901.)

7.-That each bell shall be rung throughout the peal by one and the same person.

8.-That the conductor shall not make use of written or printed matter as an aid to memory during the performance.

As this report will not be again printed, it is requested that the delegates will each bring this number of “The Bell News” to the Council meeting.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record May 10, 1902, page 52


The Twelfth Annual Meeting of Church Bell Ringers was held in the Old Council Chamber at the Guildhall, Worcester, on Whit-Tuesday, when the following representatives were present: Ancient Society of College Youths- Mr. W. T. Cockerill; Bedfordshire Association- Rev. W. W. C. Baker; Cumberland Youths- Messrs. R. A. Daniell, H. Dains, and A. Jacob; Chester Diocesan Guild- Messrs. F. T. Spence and W. Gordon; Central Northampton Association- Mr. J. R. Hensher; Devonshire Guild- Rev. Maitland Kelly; Durham and Newcastle Diocesan Association- Mr. R. S. Story; Essex Association- Messrs. W. J. Nevard and B. Keeble; Gloucester and Bristol Association- Rev. H. A. Cockey and Mr. F. G. May; Hereford Guild- Mr. J. E. Girn; Kent County Association- Mr. W. Haigh; Lincoln Diocesan Guild- Rev. H. Law James and Mr. G. Chester; Lancashire Association- Rev. H. J. Elsee; Midland Counties’ Association - Sir A. P. Heywood, Bart., Messrs. S. Cooper and J. Griffin; Middlesex Association- Messrs. A. T. King and J. Waghorn; Norwich Diocesan Association- Messrs. C. Mee, J. Motts, and W. Catchpole; Oxford Diocesan Guild- Rev. F. E. Robinson, Rev. G. F. Coleridge, and Mr. W. E. Yates; Salisbury Diocesan Guild- Messrs. T. Blackbourn and A. Smith; Sussex County Association- Rev. C. D. P. Davies, Messrs. G. Williams and S. Saker; Surrey Association- Dr. A. B. Carpenter and Mr. C. Dean; Stafford Archdeaconry Association- Messrs. S. Reeves and R. Cartwright; St. Martin’s Guild, Birmingham- Mr. W. H. Godden; Winchester Diocesan Guild- Rev. C. E. Matthews and Mr. J. B. Whiting; Worcestershire Association- Messrs. R. E. Grove and J. Smith; Yorkshire Association- Messrs. W. Snowdon, C. Hattersley, and G. Bolland; Hon. Members- Messrs. J. S. Pritchett, F. W. J. Rees, J. A. Trollope, F. E. Ward, J. Carter, and J. W. Taylor, jun.

Sir A. P. Heywood, Bart., President, presided.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed.

The President said it was with a heavy heart that he rose at the commencement of the business that day to ask the Council to pass a resolution placing on record that which they all felt to the very depth of their inmost being, the irreparable loss the Council had experienced by the death of the Rev. Henry Earle Bulwer, who had with so much ability and for so long discharged the duties of Hon. Secretary to the Council. It was not necessary that he, the President, should dwell at any length upon the many virtues that Mr. Bulwer possessed, nor on the extraordinary ability which he brought to bear upon all he took in hand, nor on the immense labour he expended on the work of the Council. Mr. Bulwer’s absolute unswerving and untiring devotion to the interests of the Council which he made a main purpose of his life had brought about that firm position which the Council now held in the estimation of the Exercise. There was nothing that had been done by the Council that did not owe its success to the way which Mr. Bulwer had laid the foundation. The Council had from time to time thought fit to appoint him, the President, as its figure head, but Mr. Bulwer had been his chief support in carrying on the work. He had been to him a pillar of strength, one to whom he could at all times refer to with confidence to bring every detail to a practical issue. Not only did the Council lose one of its most active pioneers, but the death of Mr. Bulwer was also an irremediable loss to the Exercise at large. His death had removed one whose power and influence were felt throughout the ringing world, and one who had been ever ready to assist all from the least to the greatest. But there was something more. Mr. Bulwer had left behind a great example for them all. The example they had to follow was that of one who had done his very best in all that he undertook. The work that he had done in connection with the Council was beyond belief, and he had put into it his whole energy. It would be to their shame if they did not by their individual efforts strive to follow this noble example. He, the President, had lost his right hand in the work of the Council, and he must look to them to give him redoubled assistance, and this appeal he was confident he should not make in vain. The resolution he desired to move was as follows: “That this meeting desires to place on record its sense of the irreparable loss which the Council has sustained by the death of the Hon. Sec. the Rev. Henry Earle Bulwer, to whose commanding ability and untiring labour the firm position to which the Council has attained is so largely owing.” “That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Mrs. Bulwer with the expression of the Council’s deep sympathy with herself and her family in their great sorrow.”

The Rev. F. E. Robinson in seconding, said the words of the President made it unnecessary for him to add anything. There was one point to which he might allude, and that was the absolute thoroughness of their late Hon. Secretary. If an instance was wanted, let them turn to the Glossary, of which the bulk was his work, a publication in the highest degree useful to every Association in the kingdom.

The resolution was adopted in silence, each member of the Council rising in his place.


The President said it was not competent for the Council to appoint an Hon. Secretary without previous notice. As Mr. Bulwer’s lamented death had taken place so recently, it had been impossible to give the proper notice so that the nominations could be sent in. What he proposed to do was to ask the Council to make a temporary appointment to the post until the next meeting, and then when the Council met in London nominations could be sent for a formal election. He was sure that the announcement he had to make was one which would meet with the unqualified approbation of all present. Their good friend, the Rev. Charles Davies, had consented to undertake the office until the next annual meeting. He had no hesitation in saying that there were few, if any, of equal ability and fitness to that which Mr. Davies possessed for the post. Mr. Davies in so generously offering to undertake the duties of Hon. Secretary, relieved him - the President - from a heavy load of anxiety, and he would now propose that Mr. Davies be asked to take up the office of Hon. Secretary to the Council until the next Annual Meeting.

Mr. Snowdon, in seconding, said it gave him great pleasure to second the proposal. Ever since his, the speaker’s, brother’s death he had at times to refer matters to Mr. Davies, who had most kindly given him help which had been invaluable to him. Mr. Davies was one of those who always displayed a friendly willingness to assist, and was undoubtedly just the man they wanted.

The resolution having been carried with applause,

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said he agreed with all that had been said respecting the exceptional ability of the late Hon. Secretary. It would be a heavy task to follow in the footsteps of such a man. Mr. Bulwer had innate qualities which fitted him for the post of Hon. Sec. to the Council. He would undertake the work, knowing full well that he lacked those powers of his predecessor. He accepted the post, feeling that he should have the President for his guide, and if the President would but tell him what to do he would do it to the best of his ability. He was not afraid of work, and it would be a pleasure to him to organise the labours of the Council with the President’s assistance. He could assure the Council that it might rely upon him to the best of his ability, and it was a work which he willingly undertook in their interests.

The President asked for information respecting the muffled peals and attempted peals rung in memory of Mr. Bulwer.

Statements were made of two peals rung as already reported, and also of attempts at West Bromwich, St. Martin’s, Birmingham, and at Tipton.

The President said he was glad to find that so much had been done. Although all the attempts had not proved successful yet the fact that they were made showed equally respect to the late Hon. Secretary. It had been suggested that some kind of memorial should be erected to the memory of Mr. Bulwer. He, the President, did not wish to stand in the way, but he did not himself approve of memorials of that kind. The best memorials they as ringers could offer were the peals that had and would be rung to honour his memory and to endeavour to follow his example.

Mr. Cooper further reported that the Leicester company had attempted peals, but at present he did not know the result.

Mr. Story reported that at a meeting of his Association a vote of condolence was passed.


The President said he had received the books from Mrs. Bulwer, and found no difficulty in making out the balance-sheet. Every detail was duly entered up, including the sale of the Glossary, and the bank book had been made up to May 5th. This all showed how perfect was the work of the late Hon. Secretary. The accounts showed: Balance from last year £74 18s. 9d.; Subscriptions- £10 17s. 6d.; Sale of Glossary- £53 7s. 3d. Other publications- 9s. 5d., making a total of £139 12s. 11d. Against this there was printing of the Glossary, £34 0s. 0d.; other items- £2 19s. 6d., leaving a balance of £102 13s. 5d. The Glossary account had been made up to the same date, and was as follows: Sales- £53 17s. 3d.; Expenditure- Printing- £34 0s. 0d.; Carriage of parcels- £2 19s. 11d.; Balance of profit to the Council- £16 17s. 4d., in addition to which there were several dozen copies left unsold, which would bring a further profit. He thought the Council might be congratulated upon the success that had attended the sale of the Glossary, a valuable work to the Exercise, and one which showed the ability of the friend the Council had lost. He would move the adoption of the balance-sheet.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson seconded, and the motion was adopted.


The President said there was a vacancy in the list of Hon. Members by the expiration of the term of Mr. Tom Lockwood. Mr. Lockwood’s services to the Council were valuable, and it would be a pity, although Mr. Lockwood had not been able to attend recently, not to retain him, so as to secure a continuation of his assistance.

On the proposition of Mr. Pritchett, seconded by Mr. Hattersley, Mr. Lockwood was re-elected.

The President said the Rev. E. W. Carpenter might not be re-elected to represent the Kent Association. Mr. Carpenter had proved a useful member of the Council, and as there was one place which had hitherto not been filled, he thought it would be well to elect Mr. Carpenter as an Hon. Member.

On the motion of the Rev. C. D. P. Davies, seconded by the Rev. C. E. Matthews, the Rev. E. W. Carpenter was elected an Hon. Member.


The Rev. C. D. P. Davies in reporting on behalf of this Committee, said as a member of the Committee he fully agreed with the President that there should be no longer delay in the publication of the collection. Mr. Bulwer had taken a large share of the work of the Committee; he was a kind of repository for all the peals sent in. Some time ago, he (the speaker) wrote to Mr. Bulwer asking him for the collection. It was sent on, and was rather a bulky concern. There were a large number of peals, including representations of composition of the present day. The copy was in a forward condition. He trusted that some further instructions would be given as to how the Committee were to proceed, as there was some difficulty in knowing exactly what to do. If the Committee were to be guided by the resolution passed last year, they desired to have some definition of the word “characteristic.” There were of course several ways in which the collection could be published. The whole of the collection could be published in one bulky volume, or a selection could be made so as to come in a handy book that could be put in the breast pocket, or the collection could be issued in pamphlet form in paper covers, leaving subscribers to have their copies afterwards bound in one volume if they so desired. He hoped some guidance would be forthcoming in order that steps might be taken to push on the publication, which he thought would be found very valuable.

Mr. Trollope said Mr. Bulwer wrote to him on April 22nd, that the Committee were hampered by last year’s resolution of the Council.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies asked if the Rev. F. E. Robinson would give a definition of the word “characteristic.”

The Rev. F. E. Robinson said he considered the term included compositions of antiquity, those having musical qualities and showing skill in composition. He thought it desirable that the publication should be in a portable form.

Mr. Pritchett thought the word “interesting” would be more appropriate.

Mr. Snowdon thought the words “suitable for production” would give a better guide.

The Rev. H. Law James supported the term “interesting peals,” the performance of which should be encouraged.

In reply to a question as to the formation of the committee, the Rev. C. D. P. Davies said the following was the Committee, and the work undertaken by: Mr. H. Dains, Double Norwich; Mr. Tom Lockwood, Treble Bob; Dr. Carpenter, Triples other than Grandsire; Rev. C. D. P. Davies, Grandsire Triples; Mr. Knights, Grandsire Caters and Cinques; Mr. Pritchard, Stedman Caters and Cinques; Rev. H. Earle Bulwer, Stedman Triples; Rev. J. H. Pilkington, Double Oxford; Mr. Trollope, Bob Major; Mr. Lindoff, Superlative.

The President said he had not at the present received the whole of the documents belonging to the Council from Mrs. Bulwer, but expected shortly to do so, among which no doubt would be this collection. What was to be done with it?

Dr. Carpenter said when he received the MS. which he did from Mr. Davies he went through it and initialed those peals he considered worthy of selection, most of which already had C. D. P. D. put to them.

Mr. Dains said to make the publication a useful book of reference it would be a large work. The work of tabulating made it a much larger job than he at first anticipated.

The President said there was a deal of valuable information in the collection. It was part of the duty of the Council to publish such productions. There was money in hand, so even if the publication did not pay, the Council could stand the loss. He thought the publication in pamphlet form would be the best, and that one part might be devoted to each method in which there were a large number of peals, while other parts might possibly contain two or more methods. Each of such parts could be produced separately, and so avoid delay. The parts could then be bound together - after which the Council should issue a handy pamphlet containing a small selection of peals in all the methods for the use of conductors.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson proposed, and Mr. Williams seconded that it be an instruction to the Committee to proceed with the publication in separate numbers.

Dr. Carpenter thought this would be carrying out the intention of the Council when the Committee was first appointed. Mr. Snowdon said if the Council was going in for a loss let them face it boldly. Would it not be desirable to fix the number that was to be printed? In this case it appeared to him that provision should be made at least for the next twenty-five years. He did not, therefore consider that 500 copies would be sufficient.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey supported the proposal to issue in numbers.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies suggested that the various Associations might be asked how many copies each would take, as a guide to the number to be printed.

The President did not think that Associations would purchase many copies.

Mr. Trollope said there was another important question which should be considered, that was the need of editing the collection. To publish the whole of the compositions in the way in which they were sent in would not do. In the case of Bob Major he had found it necessary in some cases to reverse the calling or to make some alteration so as to put the peal in better form. Many of the composers did not appear to understand the quality of the peals they were producing. More than one-half the peals received required editing.

The President said he understood that there were batches of copy ready at Stanhoe, and he assumed these had been edited by those who undertook to receive the particular methods, and they surely could be printed at once.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies considered there was some weeding out required before publication.

Mr. Pritchett said that to publish a peal just because it had been sent in would never do. The object should be a useful publication.

Mr. Snowdon suggested that where a large number of peals had been sent in might be as well to acknowledge in a footnote that peals not included had been sent in by other composers, giving their names. This would show that they had not been entirely thrown on one side, and might help to make matters run smooth which might not otherwise do so.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said there would still be the question of editing. Were the Committee elected for that purpose? He did not see how he could personally undertake the whole work. Could it not be undertaken by the Committee? If a start was made, and some of the first portion issued, it would be open to criticism, which might help the Committee.

Mr. Trollope said the collection of Bob Major compositions came to about 2000, were these all to appear?

The President said it was a matter that must be left to the Committee to decide. He thought there should be a fair number of compositions produced. He suggested that it should be an instruction to the Committee to proceed with the publication, the selection to be left in the bands of the Committee, and that 1000 copies be printed.

This was agreed to, and the resolution to issue the collection in numbers was also adopted.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record May 31, 1902, pages 87 to 89


Mr. Trollope reporting on behalf of this Committee said he had nothing further to tell the Council about the Report on Legitimate Methods than they would have read in “The Bell News.” He had found it impossible to re-draft the lost report in time for the meeting, and could only promise to do so at once and publish it to invite criticism. It had been a long time in hand - three years - but he asked the Council to believe that that time had not been wasted. A very great ignorance prevailed amongst ringers about method-building. The way nine-tenths of ringing books and ringers themselves wrote out a lead of a Major method, shewed that they had totally missed what a lead really was, and the Rev. C. D. P. Davies, the greatest authority on Grandsire, had stated some while since in “The Bell News,” if he rightly quoted him, that he had a very poor opinion of the intelligence of any one who could not see that the parting of the leads in Grandsire Triples was where the bob was made. Whereas, had he looked at the matter from the point of view of a method-builder, and not of a peal composer, he would have seen that the parting was between the leading of the hunts. So that, speaking personally, he had found that he had a great deal to unlearn before be could begin to form a correct opinion. He was bound to admit that it was the Rev. H. Law James who had first found salvation. He did not agree with all his views, but in the main he was right. He could assure the Council that the work had been done thoroughly. Seven or eight drafts had been circulated, and he claimed that they had gone to the very bottom of the question. But he warned the Council that he did not hope that the conclusions would be immediately accepted by all. What had taken three years hard work would hardly be fully understood by the ordinary ringer at the first reading. There was at present no great hurry for the report - three years ago there was. But the large number of new methods which were then put on the market had lately fallen off. Anyhow the only course he could take was to ask the Council to renew their confidence in the Committee for another year.

The Rev. H. Law James said it was just possible that the draft report was sent without any letter, so that there was not any clue as to the sender.

Mr. Snowdon said it appeared to him that such documents when sent through the post should be registered. When he received a report from the late Hon. Secretary it always contained a list of addresses showing the order in which it was to be sent on. He thought if this had been done with this draft it would have found its way back to one of the Committee. There were documents which belonged to the Council which had to be sent through the post which were of some value. These undoubtedly should be sent by registered post.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said when he last saw the draft there were a number of tabulated addresses attached.

Mr. Trollope said the report had been re-drafted, and the names did not appear on the last.

On the proposition of Mr. Cockerill, seconded by Mr. Reeves, it was agreed that the Committee be requested to re-draft the report and publish the same in “The Bell News” previous to the next meeting of the Council.


The President said it had been found impossible to publish the returns in the shape at first suggested, viz., under headings in a tabulated form; hence the way in which the returns were appearing in “The Bell News.” Some towers appeared without any information, for many of the forms sent out had not been returned. He had to thank those who had sent in returns, and also those who had sent corrections of the returns which already appeared. At the present rate of issuing the returns they would not be completed within twelve months. After that it would have to be decided how the information should be published. All letters giving information would be carefully noted, and when finally published, the corrections made. He should like to take the opportunity of impressing upon all who sent any communication to him on the subject of the returns, to endorse their letters C.C.C.B.R. as requested at the head of the schedule appearing each week in “The Bell News.” Letters not so marked had been following him about the country. Some of the correspondents who had written pointed out that before the report could be published as a whole, many changes might take place. This was unavoidable, but the real object, the acquisition of a definite knowledge of the tended and untended proportion of towers, would be equally attained. Some assistance might be rendered if representatives of the Council would, at their Association meetings, rouse their members up, not only to supply the missing information, but to send all necessary corrections.

In reply to Mr. Daniell the President said that corrections in the returns would appear when finally published.

Mr. Daniell pointed out that in the course of the publication of the returns in “The Bell News,” someone might have some knowledge respecting a tower that they might wish to send on. He suggested that a form should be inserted in “The Bell News” so that the answers could be filled in and returned.

The President said there were still forms in hand, a copy of which any applicant could have.

The Rev. Maitland Kelly said the returns could be materially assisted if Secretaries of Associations closely watched them and looked after any towers in their district from which no return had been made, and also returned any necessary corrections. In his own district the bells had been returned from one tower as in good ringing order. They might be so for round ringing, but he could not say they were for change-ringing, which was quite another thing. The value of the returns would be much enhanced by correcting them carefully.

Mr. King said if necessary he would look after his own district and see that the work was done, even if he had personally to go and do what was necessary. He thought that so far as the returns had already gone it would be no less interesting than other publications which had come from the Council.

Mr. Snowdon trusted the Council would assist so far as it could in getting the necessary information.

The President said he had about 750 forms in hand, and that it took him over an hour each week to get out the returns as they were now appearing. There were about 350 forms as yet unreturned. The publication would he hoped be continued week by week till completed.


The President said he thought it would be unwise to go into these in detail, for they appeared to be so nearly perfect. Here again they had before them the good work of the late Hon. Secretary. Any member of the Council having any suggestion to make should communicate with the Committee, with whom the matter had better rest. A skeleton code of belfry rules such as these had been often applied for, and could be adapted to any case. It was a matter in which there should be no further delay. He would suggest that the rules for Associations one should be added that it is desirable to affiliate with the Central Council (hear, hear).

The Rev. W. W. Baker said the rules could only be adopted as model ones, leaving those requiring to alter them as they thought fit.

Mr. Daniell did not think the rules relating to finance satisfactory. They ought not to be regarded as binding.

Mr. Williams moved, and Mr. Griffin seconded the adoption of the Code as printed.

The Rev. H. Law James said that in the Rules for a belfry it was laid down that the qualification should be membership of the Church of England. As a fisher of men he looked upon a bell rope as a very good fishing line.

The Rev. H. J. Elsee thought the question of qualification in the Code for Association rules required consideration, and to ring 120 changes in one method was generally adopted in preference to ringing 120 in two methods. There should also be consideration or distinction between a Probationer and a Member.

The Rev. W. W. Baker did not think it desirable to make the question of qualification too definite. It would be best for each Association to fix its own qualification.

The President said he thought it best to fix a fairly high standard of qualification and allow each Association to water it down. He thought the Council would agree with him that the thanks of the Council were due to the Committee for their very admirable report.

The resolution moved by Mr. Williams was adopted.


Previous to the mid-day adjournment of the Council the President moved and the Rev. G. F. Coleridge seconded that the best thanks of the Council be given to the Mayor for kindly granting the free use of the hall. This was adopted.


The President said he had received a letter from Mr. Lindoff, who wished to know if it would be competent for them in Ireland to elect a representative upon the Central Council. He had replied that there was nothing in the rules of the Central Council which confined them to England. If there was any wish to send a representative, he was sure the Council would welcome one, either from Ireland, Scotland, or Wales.


The President said the rules suggested in the report were very important, and would require careful consideration. He did not think it would be wise to attempt to pass them this year as a whole, for no doubt there was much debateable matter in them. The one great aim had been to endeavour to raise the standard of performances. What he would suggest was that clauses in which it was found there was contentious matter, should be permitted to stand over for twelve months, and should come up again for discussion, as any further decisions the Council came to could be added from time to time. There appeared to be a feeling that there should be some authoritative ruling to which the performance of a peal could be referred. The Committee came to the conclusion that before you could define a record peal you must define the conditions under which an ordinary peal should be rung. The Committee had therefore drafted both. It was very curious how much the Committee were in accord, for it was not found necessary to send round the draft a second time, but it was understood that if any of the Committee desired to move amendments they could do at this meeting. It was curious to note how some who held strong opinions upon certain points had modified their views when they came to learn the views of others. He would advise the Council not to pass any clause in a hurry, but if necessary to let it stand over for further consideration.

No. 1. - That any shift or other error in ringing be immediately corrected.

Mr. Trollope asked if a conductor made an error in calling, was he to be permitted to correct himself; and proceeded to show that in some peals a call having been omitted could be put in elsewhere, yet the peal be true.

Mr. Snowdon asked if a conductor was compelled to go for the peal he started for.

Mr. Trollope said that was his meaning.

The President said this was not covered by the particular clause.

Mr. Snowdon said in a record performance a conductor would under the proposed rules be compelled to go for the peal he started for, but in the case of an ordinary peal this was not so.

Mr. Pritchett said the words agreed upon last year were “shall invalidate the performance unless it is perceived at the time.”

The President said that the rules were headed by the invalidation clause, therefore the words were not wanted in any subsequent clause.

It was resolved that the clause as printed be adopted.

No. 2.-That no call be made, or having been made, be altered or withdrawn, later than during the change at which a call would properly take effect.

The President said this clause did not refer to the composition of a peal. It was as to how late a call can be made. A call had to be made for the most part two blows before it took effect. If a conductor was a little late in calling it must not be beyond the change when the call would take effect.

Mr. Williams proposed, and Mr. Griffin seconded the adoption of the clause.

Mr. Rees thought the call should be made not later than the commencement of the parting change, instead of during the change. In Grandsire, if “during the change” was adopted, it might be so late as 6, 7, yet it had to be made by bell in 3rds.

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge proposed, and Mr. Trollope seconded the insertion of the words “not later than the commencement” in place of the word during.

Mr. Pritchett said he was not in favour of the clause as printed. He considered if a conductor had made a wrong call and could put it right, he should be allowed to do so.

The amendment was lost, and the resolution adopted.

No. 3.- That no person other than those ringing in the peal should take any part in the calling or rectifying an error.

The President said this would preclude any one not ringing from calling from M.S. or from rectifying any mistake that might be made.

On the motion of Mr. Griffin, seconded by Dr. Carpenter, the clause was adopted.

No. 4.- That if more than one person should ring any bell the fact should be stated in publishing and booking the peal.

Mr. Snowdon said for fifteen years the Yorkshire Association had been scoring peals, but never did so where two men took part unless it was with the tenor behind, and then the names of those ringing the changing bells only were booked. He trusted the Council was not going back twenty-five years and undo the work that his Association had done. To adopt such a course would not be levelling up but levelling down. He hoped that it would not be passed as it at present stood.

Mr. Daniell thought that if peals were not to be recognised in which two men had rung one bell it would be necessary to revise the Glossary, and if this was done many of the old peals in which two men had rung one bell could no longer be recognised as peals.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson advised the Council not to be too stringent. In some towers the “go” of a bell was found to be so bad that two men were required to ring it.

It was resolved to adopt the clause.

No. 5.- That no ringer should have any refreshment handed to him while taking part in a peal.

Mr. Snowdon trusted this clause would be at once struck out and said he believed there was a large number against such a clause.

Mr. Pritchett thought it was understood that the late Henry Johnson had some kind of rock in his waistcoat pocket, of which he occasionally took a piece during the long peal of Stedman Cinques.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson did not consider such a clause necessary for the ringing of a ordinary peal.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies was in favour of the clause as it stood. There was no need of it for an ordinary 5000, but he could not see why it should not be useful for peals of 7000 or 8000 or more. If any resolution was adopted it should be against handing a ringer anything, as otherwise they might be eating half the time they were ringing.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey thought most bands would sooner go without any refreshment than run the risk of having anyone in the tower to disturb them, and so lose the peal.

The Clause was struck out.

No. 6.- That every bell must, during the peal, sound at every change.

Mr. King said if a bell got on the wrong stroke but afterwards came right, this would invalidate the peal.

The President said in such a case a bell must either have missed a blow, or made one too many.

The Clause was adopted.

No. 7.- That no four or more bells shall clash together at any change.

The Rev. F. G. Coleridge thought the Clause a little too lenient. If the clash went beyond 2 bells, it should invalidate the peal.

The President asked what was going to be termed firing.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies thought this was when the whole of the bells struck together.

Mr. Snowdon did not think the Clause far wrong. A ringer might find it necessary to hold up his bell over another that was making a mistake, and so cause a clash of 2 bells; this should not be considered firing. He approved of the clashing of 4 bells invalidating a peal.

Mr. Williams also supported the Clause as it stood.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said it might happen that two bells would clash in the best of ringing. He moved the adoption of the Clause as it stood.

The Rev. F. G. Coleridge seconded.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson proposed, and Mr. Dains seconded that the further consideration of the Clause be postponed.

The amendment was carried by 31 to 4.

That in the case of a peal rung to surpass a previous peal, compliance with these further conditions is desirable:

(1) That not less than fourteen days’ notice shall be given in the columns of “The Bell News” stating the tower, day, and hour, at which the attempt is to be made, and the number of changes proposed to be rung.

Mr. Snowdon saw a difficulty in fixing fourteen days as the limit of Notice, as many ringers in the North of England often had to wait fourteen days after publication before they got their “Bell News.”

Mr. Dains said some other band might in the mean time ring the peal.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey moved, and Mr. Dains seconded seven days’ notice in lieu of fourteen.

This was carried by 32 to 7.

(2) That similar notice shall be sent to the conductor, or if he cannot be traced, to some member of the band who rang the peal which it is proposed to surpass; or if no member of the band can be traced, then to the Secretary of the Guild or Association under whose title the said peal was rung.

(3) That a sealed copy of the figures of the proposed peal, which figures shall be strictly adhered to, be lodged, previous to the attempt, with the Secretary or other responsible officer of the Guild or Association under whose title the band is to ring; and that, in the event of the peal being accomplished, such officer shall immediately forward direct to “The Bell News” for publication the said sealed copy unaltered; but that if the attempt shall prove unsuccessful, he shall instead return the sealed copy unopened to the conductor.

Both of these were adopted without discussion.

4.- That if possible a competent representative of each of the bands shall be present during the whole of the performance.

Mr. King asked if it would not be desirable to take out the word “possible.”

Mr. Daniell said if this was done it would make it impossible for a band to beat a record by not sending a representative (laughter).

The Rev. F. G. Coleridge thought the figures should be in the possession of such a representative, who should be in the tower.

The President pointed out that the figures were to be sealed.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said there were very few who were able to check a peal unless they had the figures before them.

The clause as printed was adopted.

5.- That, if the peal shall be completed, a statement on the following lines, signed by each member of the band shall be prepared, which shall be shewn, if required, to the representative of the band whose peal has been surpassed:

“We, the undersigned, hereby testify that, to the best of our belief, the peal of ---------- rung at ---------- on the ---------- day of ---------- 19 ---------- was truly performed in accordance with the conditions for record peals laid down by the Central Council.”

The President said that the late Hon. Secretary suggested that a copy of the statement should be also published in “The Bell News.”

Mr. King thought such a statement would find its way to the columns of “The Bell News” in the natural course.

The President said it must be a statement signed by the whole of the band, and not by one member on behalf of the band.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said if such a statement was published it would prevent any statement coming forward afterwards to the contrary.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey asked why the signed statement should not be sent to the Central Council.

The President said the Council did not profess to act in a judicial capacity.

The Rev. H. A. Cockey suggested the original document might be deposited with the Secretary of the Association that recorded the peal.

The President said if so, and the Secretary of the Association considered it desirable, he could send a copy to “The Bell News” for publication.

Mr Snowdon thought the late Hon. Secretary had made a good suggestion. If such a document was published in “The Bell News” it could at all times be turned up as a record.

The clause as printed was adopted.

6.- That any objection which may be taken to a peal be raised at the earliest date, and in no case after the lapse of three months, unless in respect of the truth of the composition, as to which the figures of the sealed copy shall be deemed conclusive evidence.

This was adopted without discussion.

7.- That each bell shall be rung throughout the peal by the same person.

Mr. Snowdon considered that no peal should be lost if a second man was required because of the bad go.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson moved to insert “unless the peal lasts more than twelve hours.” He believed it was in the minds of some of the young members of the Exercise to go for the full extent of Bob Major (laughter). He should not be surprised to hear it was to be attempted.

Mr. Bolland seconded.

Mr. Trollope proposed, and Mr. Dains seconded that it should be fifteen hours.

Both amendments were lost, and the clause as printed was adopted.

8.- That the conductor shall not make use of written or printed matter as an aid to memory during the performance.

This clause was adopted without discussion.

The President said it was now necessary to return to clause 5, which had been rejected for ordinary peals. Unless such a clause was inserted there might be a case of a fed band claiming to surpass an un-fed one.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies moved, and Mr. Griffin seconded, that the clause be inserted for record performances.

The Rev. H. Law James asked if any of the great record performances had been rung without some of the band having some kind of refreshment.

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge said he had taken part in a 15000, and did not see any man have any refreshment.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson: There were some peppermints on the bar behind the 9th, but sometimes they fell to the ground instead of reaching the mouth (laughter).

The Rev. H. A. Cockey said unless the Council adopted such a clause, there would nothing to prevent some one going into a belfry to give the band refreshment.

The Rev. C. D. P. Davies said they might even have a Spiers and Pond’s bar (laughter).

The clause was adopted by 29 to 5.

This completed the rules, and the President asked for a resolution confirming the whole as amended.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson moved the adoption of the rules as amended.

The Rev. G. F. Coleridge, in seconding, said although the refreshment clause was only passed for record peals there was in one rule, No. 3 under ordinary peals, that which would meet the case, viz.; the words “rectifying an error.” To go into a belfry and give a man his breakfast during a peal would be rectifying the error the man had made in starting without it. (Much laughter).

The resolution was adopted nem. con.

The President congratulated the Council upon having done some good and useful work in laying down rules for the guidance of ringers, which he believed would in the prevailing state of uncertainty on many points in connection with peal ringing, be welcome to every honorable ringer.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 7, 1902, pages 99 to 101


The Rev. H. J. Elsee introduced for discussion the subject “Ringers as Church-goers. Are we satisfied with the present standard of attendance?” He said that although this subject was of a very different character from the other matters discussed at the meeting, it would not, he hoped, be considered inappropriate. The Council as the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers met to consider all matters which in any way concerned ringers’ interests, and surely the position of ringers as Churchmen would come under that head. The title chosen was indeed somewhat more restricted than the greater subject which they really wanted to discuss, for Church-going ought really to be the outward sign of something deeper rather than a matter valued for its own sake alone. Attendance at church was, first, the readiest outward expression of man’s duty to God and dependence upon God, recognised by the worshipper; and secondly, a real means of receiving help from God. And though in an ideal world such outward forms and means might perhaps be dispensed with, in the world as it now existed they might be said to be necessary for all who desired to be true men. The average man could not afford to do without the forms of religion. But though they spoke of Church going, it was really the inward sense of religious duty and tone which they desired to secure, and of which Church attendance was only an outward symbol. Once get this tone of true religion in the hearts of men, and outward observance would spring from it without rules. In bringing forward this subject as it concerned ringers, he desired at once to speak hopefully and thankfully. He believed that, on the whole, this standard had been steadily rising. Far less was said now-a-days about ringers’ indifference and unworthy behaviour than used to be the case. In the tower that he knew best the ringers came to church with very fair regularity, a very different state of things from that of which he was told in the case of an older band in the same tower a dozen years ago. One reason for thankfulness lay in this fact, that a better standard had grown up among ringers at the very time that, throughout the country, the custom of church going had been losing its hold upon the people at large. Certainly the growing neglect of public worship meant danger to the country, and be felt that here, by upholding a better standard, ringers were doing something, and might do more, of real service to the people among whom they lived. Yet, though they gladly recognised improvement, could they be quite satisfied with the present standard? He would mention three points which gave cause for anxiety. First, were there no towers still left in which the ringers thought only of their own enjoyment in the Exercise and nothing of their duty to God as members of the Church? He knew of one such tower, well-appointed in every way, with a band of ringers who were proud to occupy it and keen about their art, and yet only one or two of them were found with any regularity joining in the services at the church. Was this an isolated case? Then secondly, when an Association held its annual meeting, and the central service gave the one opportunity in the year for the members to join in a united act of worship, did they never hear complaints that men were found in larger numbers at the tea and business meeting than at the service itself? And a third point that made him anxious was that when in “The Bell News” he read an account of some ringers’ holiday which included a Sunday away from home, the idea that he should attend Divine Service at the place visited seldom seemed to enter the mind of the holiday-maker. Generally it seemed that the visitor, after breakfast, went to a tower to ring, then went for a walk instead of staying to service, in the afternoon probably had a pull at another tower, and after tea just had time to ring for evening service before catching his train for home. Healthy and enjoyable as this might be, was there not something missing if this was the ideal of a ringers’ holiday? He did not forget, in speaking of these cases of anxiety, that allowance must be made both for the average tone of people at present in regard to church attendance, and for special difficulties in cases such as that of a scattered band of ringers who met to ring at a tower but lived at considerable distances from it. Difficulties did exist, and must be allowed for. But still, when all had been said, ought they to be satisfied? As ringers they prided themselves on the improved tone and general position of their body. Utterly neglected belfries were becoming hard to find. An immense advance in knowledge of methods and skill had been made throughout the Exercise, and they could point truly to the fact that most of the improvement was due to the efforts of ringers themselves. Then, he asked, were they satisfied to stop here? Did they care merely to advance on the secular side of their art? Should they not be equally anxious to advance on the religious side? He spoke as a ringer to ringers, and he pleaded that the religious advance should be due to their own efforts too. He recalled a saying of an honoured member of that Council which seemed to put the ringers’ position in the noblest light, and it was this: “that in his skill as a ringer he had received a gift from God, and he desired to render it back, used and improved, to the Giver.” The Council had come to exercise a great influence among ringers in many matters, not so much by endeavouring to legislate directly, as by setting a tone. Was it out of place to ask it to endeavour to set a tone also in this matter, which concerned the highest side of the ringers’ work? He would claim that the title which the Council had deliberately adopted - the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers - shewed that it was ready to discuss questions such as this, and be therefore ventured to submit it to the meeting.

The Rev. F. E. Robinson said that the ringer, when he accepted a position in the belfry, should understand that he thereby became a Church officer. It appeared somewhat strange that a man should become a ringer it he was not first a church-goer. It was said that it was no use to get a man’s body into the church if his mind was not there also. A ringer should not allow his life to become a constant repetition of inconsistency by his summoning other people to church and not going himself. Neither should the ringer regard his work in the belfry as a substitute for his duty to God in church, for far and above all he should be a communicant. Belfry rules should not be too strictly enforced. It might be necessary to occasionally remind some members of a band that they had not been seen at church. A gentle hint of such a nature might do more good than strictly enforcing rules. A ringer should however make a rule for himself as to church attendance, which should be sufficiently strict to earn for him the character of a churchgoer, then it would not be necessary for the clergy to make rules or him in such a matter, or to be over particular in their observance. If the ringer did this it would be wise on the part of the clergy not to enforce too rigidly any rules they might think it desirable to make.

Mr. King said as a lay-worker in the diocese of St. Albans, he did not attempt to preach to the ringer of the present day, for he thought he was better left in the hands of the clergyman. As a rule however it was not all the clergy that would take the ringers in hand, on the other hand there were those who would threaten and blame a ringer if he was not so regular as others. This was not the kind of attitude to adopt. It would not be adopted with the congregation. He thought that the improved state of things which appeared to be growing up by a closer Association between the ringer and the clergy was due to the art of change-ringing in which the ringer had to display his best intelligence. He believed also that many of the older members of the Exercise had begun to look at the religious side of their lives from a different standpoint, and had thereby become church-goers, and fully recognised by their work in the belfry as church-workers. He trusted the day was not far distant when the younger section of the Exercise would follow the example set them by the older section, and by becoming recognised as church-goers, help to raise the tone and standard of the whole Exercise.

Mr. Daniell said he was very pleased to find that this question had been placed before them in so wide a spirit. He did not rise with any controversial object, but simply to make a few remarks from the point of view of the ordinary layman. It seemed to be admitted on all hands that the laity did not attend Divine worship as much as they should or as much as they used to, and is was stated by one of the clerical speakers at the Sunday observance meeting at the Brighton Church Congress last autumn, that conventional religion had collapsed, which was undoubtedly true. We were therefore in this matter of church attendance brought back to first principles, which were the best thing for us. Ringers were laymen, and were actuated in this matter in the same way as other laymen. Either a ringer was a church attender or not. If he were, he had good reasons for being so. If not, he had reasons of some kind for not being so. He conceived that there could be no doubt in the mind of any man who admitted to being a Christian that public worship is a duty, and consequently if this remained a theory only, and was not put in practice, there must be some reason for the inconsistency. The reason might be mere indifference, and this of course could not by any means be justified. But in many, if not most cases, there was a further element, namely, misapprehension of the nature of worship which prevented men focussing their minds about it. He would refer to three of these misapprehensions. One was owing to the undue prominence formerly given to sermons. He had nothing to say against sermons, but thought that those of them who in their early boyhood were taken to church in the days of the supremacy of the black gown, often derived the impression that the Liturgy was a respectable introduction to the worship of the preacher, and though things had now changed in this respect, the notion of the sermon being the main thing still survived among many persons; and it was not to be wondered at that it had come to be a hindrance to attendance at church, seeing that it gave a false idea of the nature of public worship - one altogether at variance with what they had been told by the clerical speakers that afternoon. The next misapprehension to which he would refer was the notion that by going to church people professed to be better than others or than they themselves were. This notion was held by many people in all classes of life, yet it was entirely false, and it was only necessary to look at the language of the Prayer Book to see how opposed such a notion was to the practice and teaching of the church. He was afraid that laymen knew very little about the Prayer Book, and that when most of them were boys they got little, if any, teaching about it. Yet it was a most interesting book, both in its history and contents. They ought to make it their business to know more than they as a rule now did about it, and there was no difficulty in getting for a shilling or so a commentary which would furnish them with much information; and if they paid a little rational attention to the meaning of the Prayer Book not only would such misapprehensions as this be corrected, but the services themselves would become all the more interesting to them by reason of the greater familiarity they would gain with their nature and history. The third misapprehension arose from the false teaching of Sabbatarianism. It was not true that the Christian Sunday was the Sabbath. The Rev. Mr. Green the Rector of Clapham, gave at the Brighton Church Congress an admirable summary of the history of Sunday, showing that the Christian Church had from the first observed the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day; but when the Puritans appeared on the scene they refused to accept Church authority or tradition; they insisted on having a text of Scripture as the authority for keeping this day, and as they could not find one, because none existed, they boldly applied to the Lord’s Day texts which had nothing to do with it, but related to a different day altogether which had long ceased to be observed except by Jews. This therefore was misleading; but it did not end there. Some one, the devil, he supposed, in vented the doctrine that pleasure was of itself wrong on Sunday, and thenceforward, from the cradle onwards, human beings were too often subjected in religious families to a depression or exasperation the memories of which have doubtless done much harm to Sunday observance. Someone - he hoped it was not their old friend Dr. Watts - wrote a hymn commencing-

This is Sunday, Sabbath Day,
Little children must not play.

Poor little things! Where was the New Testament authority for suppressing their innocent joy on Sunday? And then as the boys and girls grew older, the inconsistencies, the absurdities, and not least, the uncharitableness in judging other people all combined to bring about that reaction against Sabbatarian ideas which we now witnessed. But the effect of the reaction as regarded attending Church services was to confuse many people’s minds. Though they might have abandoned Sabbatarianism in practice, they had not got rid of the notion that it and church going were both parts of the same system, and that consequently in their case there was something inconsistent or hypocritical in attending church services. It was most important, therefore, to clear their minds on this point and to understand that Sabbatarianism was not part of the Christian faith at all. It was a mere human invention, and consequently there could be no inconsistency for those who did not accept it to attend the services of the Church. He thought the Church was entitled to ask the Exercise to give some intelligent thought to this matter of church going, and if men were impeded by any intellectual difficulty, to examine it carefully in an honest endeavour to get at the truth, in which case he ventured to think that the difficulty would disappear.

Mr. Snowdon said he thought the present standard of the Exercise very encouraging for many would leave change-ringing and the world better than they found it. He did not think it was altogether neglect which kept ringers out of the church. It might be that he lived a distance from the tower, and would have to leave by 9 o’clock on the Sunday morning to reach the tower in time for ringing. If he attended the service it would in some cases be past one o’clock, if he remained for the whole of the service, before be reached home. Many did not like leaving before a service was complete. There was however no reason why they should not do.

The President said that, with the Rev. C. D. P. Davies, he was asked to address a meeting at the last Church Congress. Although they had not a large audience, it was satisfactory to know that after many years work they had got thus far to be recognised by the Church. They there endeavoured to show that the present standard which the Exercise had reached was mainly due to the action of ringers themselves. The subject now so ably and helpfully discussed was one which had been much on his mind, for after parading before the clergy the good work ringers had effected among themselves, and their consequent claim to the increased sympathy of the church, it was of the first importance that indifferent attendance at public worship should not give the lie to their professions, and alienate the sympathy they justly demanded.

A vote of thanks to the President, moved by the Rev. F. E. Robinson, and seconded by Mr. Snowdon, concluded the meeting.

In the evening there was a quiet gathering of members and their friends at The Star hotel, no music of any kind except handbell ringing, being indulged in, as a mark of respect to the late Hon. Secretary.

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record June 21, 1902, pages 124 to 125

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